At ten, Hermione Granger believed she knew the world she had lived in. She read and read and read until the sun set and then, most often, even past that.
At eleven, Hermione learns that there is always more to discover, more to learn. She is whisked away to a magical school, where she works so hard to make her mark in the history books. Hermione meets the two best friends that she will ever have; Harry, who is something that is just so fantastically special; and Ron, who is something so wonderful that she can't seem to really place her finger on it. She proves that her talents are not worthless. She is going to be something great as well, and soon everyone else will be able to see it too. She was right about everything, except for Snape (but she doesn't have a good feeling about him anyways, he'll show his true colors soon enough). Harry learns the power of love, and she learns the power of patience and friendship.
At twelve, she might never be normal. Names like mudblood and know-it-all hurt more than she will ever let on. It turns out this magical world is not so different from the one she left behind. It seems she is the only one who truly values her work over fame and friends. All Hermione knows, is that she is once again the outcast, and it hurts her. Harry and Ron are facing their own problems- basilisks, and Slytherin heirs, but her enemy is larger than any of those. She says nothing. Instead, she continues to research, and study, and defeats the bad guys the only way she knows how, and hope for change. She is attacked by is basilisk, and even then she stays brilliant. She solves the puzzle, and the good guys win again.
At thirteen, Hermione realizes exactly how unstable her relationships are. Ron is always angry with her, and Harry and she are simply not able to be together for more than an hour. As always, she covers up her hurt with studies. She learns things she's not supposed to know, and for once she gets to keep a secret. For the first time, Hermione is the one who gets to sneak around and know what it's like to lie, just a little bit. She likes it. It's thrilling, and it's unexpected and so not Hermione, but that's what makes it so much better. Sirius Black escapes from Azkaban, but it turns out, he's not bad at all. He's a hero. A survivor. As is Remus Lupin. Peter Pettigrew, however, is not. He is a coward, and Hermione knows his demise will come.
At fourteen, and Hermione wants to know what it's like to feel beautiful. Harry and Ron have had a falling out, and she will always take Harry's side, because that's just the way it is. This time, spending time with Harry isn't so hard. They work together on the Triwizard Tournament tasks, and talk about dates for the Yule Ball. She gets to keep another secret, and this one helps reveal some of Ron's thoughts about her. After three years at Hogwarts, Hermione puts on makeup for the first time, and she curls her hair, and puts on a pretty periwinkle dress and enters the Great Hall with Viktor Krum. She enjoys the gasps of surprise around her, and she feels pretty for just one night. But it doesn't stay pretty. Ron hurts her, and then Cedric Diggory dies and Voldemort returns. The world is not okay, and it won't be again. Not for a long, long time.
At fifteen, she feels like she's finally growing up. Really, she had been an adult since first year, everyone would agree, but for her, even being able to hear intel on the Order of the Phoenix makes her feel mature. She gets to keep more secrets this year, and with those secrets come some of the greatest of adventures. This year, Hermione grows more than ever, she fights for her friends and peers, to help them all survive, and she helps, and suddenly, people learn her name. Umbridge's tyrannical rages give her something actual to fight against. Umbridge is not a dark whisper in an alley, or the word used on a person's final breath. She's just a terrible person, and that's something Hermione can handle. She continues fighting for the whole year, and her fight ends in the Department of Mysteries. Sirius is lost in battle, and she knows more deaths will come-she can feel it, deep within her heart- but she feels accomplished. She feels like she's finally worth something.
At sixteen, Hermione begins to lose her faith in what is right and fair. Her heart is trampled on by Ron and his brand new (beautiful) girlfriend, Lavender; Harry has taken the single thing that she's truly passionate about and works for; and Voldemort makes his way into their homes and lives, and she's almost certain that this will be the end. She learns that everyone has secrets- even Snape. But her year is not without its fair share of laughter and friendship, and for that, she will always be grateful, because it was the first year where she realized how important those things were. It was the year the war truly begun, the year Dumbledore had been murdered and the year Hermione truly went from girl to woman- whether she wanted to or not.
At seventeen, Hermione feels much older than her age. She feels a desperate longing for the war to end, and it claws at her from the inside out, or was that her stomach, protesting at the lack of food. When this is over, she tells herself, she'll go back home. At first, no time is spent thinking about where her home really is. Is it with the parents who don't know she exists, or where she has spent the last six years learning and growing and laughing. Ron leaves only a little bit after they find the first horcrux, and she thinks she just can't take anymore, but she stays with Harry, because while Ron is the one she knows she'll be standing next to at the altar, it'll be Harry that will walk her down the aisle and subsequently stand as her Maid of Honor, and Ron's Best Man. It is then she contemplates just staying tucked and hidden away in the Forest of Dean with Harry. They could do it, they could be happy together, but he loves Ginny, and she couldn't imagine a life without her Ron.
Only a little while after Ron returns, they are captured by Bellatrix and Fernir Greyback. Before that day, she had never truly known pain. It tore and twisted her insides up and scalded her skin, and as it happened she couldn't hear her own screams, only Bellatrix's psychotic laughter. She learns that her hunches aren't always correct, because if they were, Snape wouldn't have died for the woman he had loved for the entirety of his life. She hoped that he and the Marauders and Lily would meet each other again, because Snape deserved some credit. He was a good person- he just didn't let anyone see rest of their adventures together are successful, and before she knew it, they had won the battle, and Voldemort was gone, and Harry, oh Harry, he was victorious. Hogwarts was a graveyard, but Hermione could only feel the large, warm hands of Ron wrapping her own small ones and the feel of Harry's arm around her shoulders. She could only think that nothing would ever feel more perfect.
At nineteen, Hermione is working. She is working to put things back in order. As result of a voting process, she is named the Interim Mistress of Magic, and she is making things all better. Harry and Ron are both out traveling the world, and catching the remaining Death Eaters. No one would be safe with all these remaining enemies running about, or at least that's what they told her. She knows why they left. They needed some time off, but sometimes it felt more like abandonment. Draco Malfoy and she are on speaking terms, and somehow, he ends up as not her assistant, but as her second-in-command. Soon, they are spending days in the office, and nights at one another's homes drinking wine and talking. It wasn't romantic, they both knew that. It was comfort. His friend's were dead or escaping, hers were just gone, and they both needed a friend.
A month before her birthday, Harry and Ron come back. They see her relationship with Malfoy, and they don't question it too much. Thankfully, Harry had convinced Ron that nothing was going on between Hermione and Malfoy. Everything is going back to where it ought to be. Harry is happy with Ginny, Malfoy found Astoria Greengrass, and they're happy together, Ron is home, safe and sound, but Hermione is anxious. She is waiting for the next attack, the next thing to jolt her. It doesn't come.
At twenty, Hermione decides it's time to leave. She only tells Malfoy and McGonagall. Harry and Ron should know too, she knows they'll throw a fit about it once they realize she's gone, but she can't bring herself to go to them and say goodbye. So she doesn't. She travels around. Lounging in America. Drinking coffee in Paris. Flirting in Spain. Contemplating in Ireland. Meditating in India. Working in Africa. Sunbathing in Mexico. Surfing in Hawaii. Taming dragons in Romania. She learns so many things and languages, and she never, ever wants to go back home, but then she remembers what had been pulling her out of England in the first place. So she packs her bags again, and her trip is almost at its end. She arrives in Australia the day she turns twenty one. Her parents are easy enough to find. But she never realized how much she had given them when she took away their memories. They're happily together, with two more children. The family sits together in a park, and none of them realize the world they've forgotten. Hermione watches them from afar. She figures she's unrecognizable, she's no one to them. Just one of those faces.
She apparates Australia with a hurt heart, because she knows better than to expose them to the unkind world she had to grow up in. Hermione runs back home, to Number 12 Grimmauld Place. Somehow, by some miracle, they're there. Harry and Ginny are lounging on a couch, wrapped in an embrace; the Weasleys are in the kitchen preparing dinner; Teddy and Andromeda are playing on the carpet; Draco and Astoria are quietly discussing things on the loveseat; and Ron is sitting in the corner, staring at a picture. When they hear the crack of her Apparating, they all stand at once, because she's the only other one who's able to come in through apparation.
Everyone is silent, and then in a rush everyone's arms are around her and everyone's hands are touching her- Harry's familiar ones, Ginny's small soft ones, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley's caring ones, the rough hands of Charlie, the long white ones of Draco and Astoria, the innocent little ones of young Teddy, the soft, wise ones of Andromeda, and the tickling ones of George. Ron stays behind, and lets everything die down before he even looks her in the eye. She sees him, and he opens his arms and she jumps into them. Her legs are clamped around his stomach, and his strong arms are holding her back up. She whispers the words she never had the chance to say.
Hermione is 87. Ron died a year ago, as did Ginny, and Astoria. All the memories that were truly left of the war lay in the arms of her, Harry, and Draco, so they decide to write about it. Three different accounts of the war- the hero, the sidekick, and the enemy. The books turn in to accounts of their lives, and Hermione has the chance to write about how before she was the Mistress of Magic, and a hero of the Wizarding world, she was just a girl. A girl that was forced to grow up too quickly. A girl who helped save the world. A girl who lost her parents not to death, but to something more powerful- love. A girl who never backed down from a challenge and was a Gryffindor, down to her bones and the blood that pumped through her veins.